Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Favorite Words

Recently I got into a discussion with some bloggers about the power of words.  It was a fascinating discussion, as it highlighted for me just how difficult it is to communicate effectively.  It it so easy to be misunderstood, since expressing ideas clearly takes great skill, and people always have their own emotional baggage which affects the way words are interpreted.

I like the words please and thank you.  I also like being told, I love you.  But my favorite words are I’m sorry.

I’m sorry. I say it often:

  • I’m sorry, I was preoccupied and didn’t notice that I was blocking your way, or that there was a queue formed in a direction I failed to see, or that you were approaching the door and I didn’t hold it open for you, etc...
  • I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to step on your foot, or bump into you because I zigged when I should have zagged.
  • I'm sorry, but not tonight, I have a headache.
  • I’m sorry, I misunderstood your meaning.
  • I’m sorry I interrupted you.
  • I’m sorry we don’t agree, and our disagreement has upset us both.
  • I’m sorry I behaved inappropriately in this situation.
  • I’m sorry that I did not consider your feelings before speaking or acting.
  • I’m sorry I hurt you, even if that was not my intention.
  • I’m sorry, that was completely my fault.

I’m sorry.  When these words are sincerely spoken, they make life more pleasant for all of us.

Some people think saying those words are a sign of weakness, but to me, they’re a sign of great strength of character. Try them! They really do work wonders!


  1. I suppose this could lead to another question: Should one say that they're sorry even when they're not because it's polite?

    As in when I might say "Sorry to interupt you." when I actually am thinking "I'm not sorry at all for interrupting you. You have been talking endlessly and not letting me get a word in and you should shut up for a damn second because I really need to tell you something"


    "I’m sorry I hurt you, even if that was not my intention."

    When I'm actually thinking "You're nuts for being hurt by that statement. You have to grow thicker skin, but I'm going to say I'm sorry anyway just because I'm tired of your whining, despite not being sorry."

    Or even
    "I’m sorry, that was completely my fault."
    When I mean "I'm not sorry. It wasn't my fault, but copping to it and saying I'm sorry is probably the most expedient way of shutting you up and letting me clock out of work and go home."

    Because I don't say I'm sorry all that often, but when I do, it's usually not because I actually am sorry. It is sometimes... but not usually.

  2. Good post, Ardent Skeptic. I would also like to add that "I'm sorry you were hurt by my comment" is not the same thing as "I'm sorry I hurt you with my comment"

  3. Yes, Geek Goddess! Wording can make all the difference. I suppose that is why I'm a huge fan of Miss Manners. "Miss Manners Rescues Civilization" by Judith Martin is a great read.


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